You as a reader can probably agree with me that you have made changes in at least one habit, trait, or action of yours because of the opinion of people present in your life around you. This is a statement that not many of us can deny. We rely so much on what our peers think about how we behave, how we look, or what we like doing in our free time. We tend to forget that we are the ones in control of our lives and in order to feel happy, our opinion about ourselves matters the most.
In this short blog, I would like to discuss this topic with the example of an extremely difficult time in my life that I went through. I believe that my story is very relatable to this theme. As you will be able to see, this ‘theme’ can often become a real ‘issue’ and have a negative impact on your whole life, change you completely as a person, and reserve a place for itself in your mind for years.
I was 12 years old when I had to move on from primary school to secondary school. For most people, these are exciting times, but unfortunately for me, it was the start of a terrible academic year. On the first day, I sat down next to a group of boys who seemed friendly and were easy to talk to. It soon became obvious that my new friends were bullied by almost the whole class on a daily basis. The class spared me from abusive comments for most of the months of the school year, but I became scared of also becoming a target for them.
One of my classmates often received remarks about his physical attributes, more precisely his weight. This is what triggered an awful thought in my head, and I did what a shy, scared 12-year-old would do, stopped eating. I wanted to hide from the idea of me becoming the new ‘victim’ or ‘prey’ for the bullies, which led to me being hospitalised after losing an amount of weight that I will not even mention. To conclude the story, I ended up recovering fully and switching schools, which turned out great as I met some of my closest friends in the following years.
What I want to show with my example, is that caring too much about the opinion of people surrounding you, whether that be family, friends, classmates, or colleagues, can cause serious problems, such as an eating disorder in my case. The effects of this year were apparent throughout my teenage years, as I struggled with anxiety and had shorter periods of time when instead of my weight, I focused on other elements of my life, which led to negative effects on relationships with friends and my studies.
Even though I struggle with my self-image up to this day, I believe that I made enormous steps towards beating this bad thought that is hidden somewhere (and will probably always will be) in my brain. I realised that I put my health, my future, and my family’s situation in danger just because I was too concerned about how others viewed me. Understanding this took a long time, but it changed my whole perspective about life. Like most people, I often feel unhappy about how I look or act. I still care too much about what people surrounding me think. I still am worried about hearing negative remarks aimed at me. But, I have come a long way since that first secondary school year.
I understand that this can seem like an extreme case, but my aim is to help anyone reading this who might be going through a similar situation, even if it is related to another aspect of life. My story can be used as a negative example of how overthinking about how people perceive you can completely unsettle you and make you look at life only in a pessimistic way. I am not saying that we should completely ignore our critics, but it is important to select what comments, and who’s comments can be valuable to us. At the end of the day, the image we create of ourselves in our minds has a massive impact on whether we feel content about our life. Working on improving our opinion about ourselves is a key factor leading to happiness.